Saturday 12 June 2010

A letter by Stanley Woods

In an appealing tale about the first CS1 Norton , Walter Moore claims that his OHC design was first used at the Isle of Man TT circuit in 1927 when the engine had never been tested before. Moore had rushed two fresh CS1 motors to the island, hiring a tugboat to get himself there overnight. Once landed, he faced the challenge of convincing the team mechanic and rider to fit and race the new power plant. By the end of the next day, the 17th of June 1927, the CS1 and Alec Bennett had won the Senior TT by over eight minutes.

While Walter Moore claimed to have rushed the CS1 engines straight from the workshop to the TT, Stanley Woods has another story to tell. Woods was known for his sharpness and vitality in later life, making his comments more than credible.

This contribution is by Simon: ”In his letter (transcript provided below) Woods mentions going to Stuttgart for an event in May 1927 which rather knocks on the head the Walter Moore tale about taking a couple of untried engines over to the IoM for the 1927 TT in a hired boat. He also says he was loaned the production CS1 initially issued to Jimmy Guthrie and by chance I have a rather poor print of what is perhaps this very machine, with Stanley on board, at the '31 Scott Trial to which he refers. The registration of the bike is KS3900 and this was issued in the Roxburgh area - just a few miles from Guthrie's home town of Hawick. Note this shot shows quite well that the bike is fitted with the special 7 inch front brake used on the Works racing machines rather than the 8" Enfield type used on the production versions of the CS1. Cheers S”


Dear Mr Adams

Thank you for your order – your CS1 picture and your chatty letter.

As you remark, I had quite a lot to do with the CS1! I worked on the assembly of the first race model – what a last minute rush the final assembly was! Completed just after 1 o’clock on a Thursday in May 1927 – out into the street at the back of the Norton factory – near the centre of Birmingham – a push start and full throttle in 1st gear – into 2nd – brakes – turn around and back to the factory rear entrance where a lorry was waiting. Up into the lorry, where a mechanic was waiting to drain off the fuel as we raced to the central rail station to catch the 2 o’clock train for London and Harwich for the night boat from Harwich to the Hook of Holland – then a full day by rail to Stuttgart in S. Germany for its first race!

Practice Saturday morning and the race on Sunday – I led easily until I broke a gudgeon pin (USA wrist pin?)! Back to the factory for a quick modification and then the CS1 led the field for the 1927 Season.

At the London Motorcycle Show in November 1927 the first production model was on show. Jimmy Guthrie was signed up for the 1928 team and Nortons sent him that machine so “that he could learn to ride a Norton!”

September 1928 the Company replaced my ‘hack’ “Model 18” with that bike and I used it in almost all types of event until I left the Company at the end of the Season 1933.

Although she was not designed for trials – a ground clearance of about 3 ½ inches – I was most successful and was Trials Champion of Ireland three years – local road races, sand races and cross-country events solo and sidecar – sometimes with a high compression piston and Alcohol fuel – what a bike! And never let me down. I think that her best performance was fastest time in the famous (notorious!) Scott Trial in 1931 – that was about 50/60 miles over the open Yorkshire Moors – I could go on for pages! They don’t make bikes like that today! Thanks again for your support.

Sincerely yours

Stanley Woods

PS Bikes like that! The 500cc Velocette that I rode in the 1979 Classic Lap (“Geriatric TT”) and also in 1980 – 81 – 82 and 83 was the bike I raced in the 1937, 8 and 9 Senior TT – Raced after the war and is still good for 125 MPH - and happy at that. SW